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When I first asked myself this question, this answer made a lot of sense :

If your app is the same as your website, then why have an app? source

But today, web apps are getting better and better, and the concept of progressive web apps is rapidly... well... progressing.

I'm working for a company that's rebuilding its entire website / mobile apps ecosystem. Our job is to sell train tickets.

Obviously you may want different UIs for your Android and iOS native apps, but beyond UI, if we're talking featurwise :

Should I strive to make sure that the native app has extra chunky chocolate chip features, or should I try to ensure that features are consistent accross apps, be they web or native ?

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Are the users of Desktop and Mobile the same? Do they:

  • order the same types of tickets? or does one demographics e.g. buy more group tickets?
  • buy recurrent tickets in the same way? or does one demographic need to perform searches, advanced searches more often?
  • have the same values / preferences (simplicity vs efficiency for instance)?
  • have the same amount of time available to them, or are either Desktop or Mobile users more likely to be in a rush?

What I'm getting at here is you obviously have plenty of personas in your business. Here are some I pulled out of my magician hat:

  • the regular commuter who takes the same train every day / week / month to navigate between home and work, with an occasional change in schedule
  • the holiday-goer who buys tickets occasionally, and always different types of tickets
  • the professional who buys many tickets often, between big cities where their company sends them. Being quick, providing receipts that are easy to extract and send to expenses is key.
  • the travel agent who books tickets for groups on a daily basis, and has no time to waste on silly animated and "simplified" UIs

It is quite likely that the latter two groups (and esp. the last) prefer using a desktop because they usually have one lying around. If you book tickets for others for a living the last thing you want is a "simple" app that hides away advanced options that you consistently need.

Thus regardless of what your mobile and desktop apps / websites look like, you need multiple user interfaces for such a product. User testing would tell you which types of devices correlate with which user demographics, and might help you decide what features each version of your site should have.

  • Hey @Steve, you make good points but in this case, I'm comparing mobile users in two situations : web mobile app or native mobile app. – MonsieurPoivron Oct 28 '16 at 16:26
  • @MonsieurPoivron oh, sorry, I misunderstood your question indeed. Well, if you build an app, you should follow the platform guidelines so that it is more usable (through consistency with other apps). You could also ask yourself if the app is likely to be preferred by regular users (who'd accept the space waste and effort of an install) -- in that case, what do they do that occasional users don't? – Steve Dodier-Lazaro Oct 28 '16 at 18:48

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